The Daedalus Encounter
DAEDALUS, the symbol of inventiveness personified, constructed the Labyrinth at Crete in which the Minotaur was imprisoned; shortly after that he became the symbol of fast-talking salesmen, convincing his son Icarus that a handful of chicken feathers stuck to an old carpet would make the ideal holiday transportation. You might think, from this, that The Daedalus Encounter is based on some kind of spooky meeting with this purveyor of poor-quality hang-gliders in a carpet warehouse or battery chicken establishment. You'd be wrong.
It's 2135, and you are Casey O'Bannon, space gunner. You're patrolling with your chums, Ari (who - fascinatingly - is played by Tia Carrere, the "babe interest" from Wayne's World) and Zack (who isn't). You and your fellow crew members are involved in a heated argument about whether anyone really needs a lycra bra in low-gravity situations, when you're attacked without warning by Vakkars. Vakkars are like that: they never warn anyone - hoping, apparently, to catch their enemies with their bras in their hands. Being attacked by Vakkars is about as welcome a proposition as being stuck in a lift with Gyles Brandreth. Nevertheless, you don't lack pluck, and you switch your guns on and proceed to smite them hip and thigh as if there's no tomorrow.
Property of Casey O'Bannon
Which for you, there isn't. The Vakkars break through your withering hail of fire to hit your ship, and you and your still-bickering chums have little choice but to eject, fastening various items of underwear as you go. The last thing you see is a large chunk of spaceship heading straight at you. It hits you smack in the... well, everything, really. And not only is there no tomorrow, there's no next week, or next month either. When you eventually regain consciousness, several of your earth months later (earthling), your health seems to have taken a slight turn for the worse. You don't seem to have any legs. Neither, for that matter, do you have any arms. Or any armpits, nostrils, nipples, eyes or skin. In fact, all that is left of you after your collision with the space debris is a brain, in a box. Still, look on the bright side. Your migraine's cleared up.
The war's over. Ari (who, astonishingly, is played by Tia Carrere from Wayne's World) and Zack (who isn't) have stolen you from the laboratory where you were being held, in the hope that you'll join them in their new career as intergalactic salvage merchants. You have little say in the matter - mainly because you don't have any lips. Or a tongue. But then, you wouldn't be able to say anything even if you did just have a tongue. Apart from "la", and that wouldn't do you any good, would it? Unless you were pointing at something in French. (Get on with it. Ed.)
So. being unable to refuse, off you go together - you in your new body, which is a sort of fish tank/can opener combination - and they in their old ones, which are sort of muscle, skin and bone combinations (with a dash of lycra - some people just never listen).
Along with the aforementioned brain-in-a-barrel arrangement, you have a "pod" over which you have remote control, which provides you with your view of the action (since you're stuck on the ship in your jar) and which you're supposed to utilise to solve the problems that will appear during the game. Because The Daedalus Encounter is a game. Sort of.
Hanging with Mister Spaceship
Unfortunately, no sooner do you set underway (equipped with a brief training mission to get you accustomed to the controls) than your ship crashes into, and becomes hopelessly entangled with, a huge organic ship. This ship is heading straight for a binary star's corona (note the restrained lack of fizzy pop jokes), taking you along with it. The only way to save yourselves is to board the ship and alter its course.
By now the game is well and truly under way. It's just a matter of recognising the fact. Because this, unfortunately, is one of those much despised, new-fangled "interactive movies". And we all know what that means, don't we? - sitting in front of the monitor for hours, watching a Quicktime movie.
Look at the lenses on that
It tries to pretend that you have things to do. You have nominal control of your pod: if you watch the movie in reduced view, you have a range of commands to click on; watch it in full view and you have keyboard shortcuts, but no on-screen indication of what you have done. But neither keyboard-press nor icon-click work unless the game situation demands it, and, in fact, you can't actually do anything until you're told to. The pod flies about of its own accord, framing the action from your viewpoint, as well as (confusingly) appearing in the background. (Now we know why Tia insists on lycra - let's hear it for Bra-Cam.) The worst thing is that you can't even shoot anything when you're bored because your laser is deactivated until the very moment you need it.
So there you sit, watching two actors pretending to interact with computer-generated special effects. Admittedly, it's not as mind-numbing as the recently-reviewed Hell (never was a game more aptly-named) - the script, acting and plot are at least mediocre.
Every now and then the actors will turn to you and ask you to help them out; essentially, this means you have to solve a puzzle that's been artificially grafted over the top of the movie to make it last longer. Usually they will take the form of single-screen, spatial reasoning problems, but you might (calm down) occasionally have something to shoot with your temporarily-activated laser. Other "puzzles" are merely trials of patience.
The game makes three assumptions: one is that you'll somehow know, unprompted, what you should do in any given situation, however vague; the second is that when you realise how little there actually is to do, you'll want to persevere. An awful lot of time and money has obviously been spent on it - as we're repeatedly told in the reviewers' promotional video, it's basically one long special effects film.
Graphically, it's outstanding, and the script and acting are bearable. If Virgin had used the same material to make something like one of the LucasArts adventures, or even something like Myst, with puzzles a little more in keeping with the game, it'd be onto a winner. Instead, the acting stops every now and then to stick a few logic puzzles in front of you. Have I mentioned that Tia Carrere, the woman from Wayne's World, is in it? (I'm not sure... Ed.) Because that's the third assumption the game makes: that sad people will buy it just because she's in it. Which makes it the gaming equivalent of one of those awful puzzle magazines with a picture of a bikini-clad "sexy chick" on the front.
Daedalus Encounter is, indeed, a technical achievement, and it looks very nice, but, basically, it's a crap game.
Download The Daedalus Encounter
PC compatible, P-100
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode